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L'Chaim
May 6, 1994 - 25 Iyar 5754

316: Behar Bechukosai

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Published and copyright © by Lubavitch Youth Organization - Brooklyn, NY
The Weekly Publication For Every Jewish Person
Dedicated to the memory of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson N.E.


  315: Emor317: Bamidbar  

Making our world a true and eternal world of Moshiach A World of Good.  |  Living With The Times  |  A Slice of Life  |  What's New
Insights  |  Who's Who  |  A Word from the Director  |  Thoughts that Count
It Happened Once  |  Moshiach Matters

Making our world a true and eternal world of Moshiach A World of Good.

How will feeding the poor, improving education, and fighting disease help the Lubavitcher Rebbe?

By giving to a worthy cause dedicated to improving the world, you can affect the Rebbe's recovery.

That's because the Rebbe is an extraordinary person so totally devoted to perfecting the world that his own welfare is bound up with the world's.

He is a man who has spent every single moment of his life working, praying, giving and living for only one thing: A world free of hate, pain, strife and falsehood -- a world of good -- a world of G-dliness -- a world of Moshiach.

The Rebbe has told us that we are on the threshold of a new age, that we are entering an era of unprecedented peace and prosperity, when all living beings will know their Creator.

The vision has been exemplified by a lifetime of action -- teaching, guiding, relentlessly working toward this goal.

And giving.

Over the course of his 44-years of leadership the Rebbe has emphasized the awesome power of charity.

He has taught that giving charity changes not only the recipient and the giver, but that the very act of giving brings a new spiritual light into the universe that changes the world as a whole.

For years, each week, the Rebbe gave dollar bills together with his blessings to all who came -- and they came by the thousands.

In return, the Rebbe asked only that each individual give a dollar (or more) to the charity of his or her choice.

In this way the Rebbe has distributed millions of dollars -- one dollar at a time -- to tens of thousands of men, women and children, who in turn gave to countless charitable causes, each devoted to bettering the world in its own way.

Following his recent stroke, people the world over want to know how the Rebbe is.

Many have asked if there's anything they can do to help.

The answer is "Yes!"

By following the Rebbe's example, you can change the course of things.

By giving charity or time to the worthy cause of your choice, and by encouraging others to give in multiples of 18 -- "life" in Hebrew -- together with your prayer for the Rebbe's recovery, you can make a difference.

You may want to give for education or for health care or to feed a hungry child.

Whatever you give -- 18 minutes or 18 cents, $1.80, $18, $180 or more, with the simple but profound act of giving "18" you undoubtedly infuse the Rebbe with "life" and yourself with life and thereby have a share in the great task and the rewards of making our world a true and eternal world of Moshiach -- a World of Good.


Living With The Times

The first of this week's two Torah portions, Behar, contains the mitzva of Shemita, the commandment to allow the holy land of Israel to lie fallow every seventh year.

"When you come into the land which I give you...six years shall you sow your field...but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of rest for the land, a Sabbath for the L-rd: your field you shall not sow, and your vineyard you shall not prune."
As reward for this mitzvah, G-d promises to provide the Jewish people with sustenance in overwhelming abundance, more than enough to compensate for their cessation of labor for an entire year.

"And if you should say, 'What will we eat in the seventh year? For behold, we are not permitted to sow, and we cannot gather in our harvest,' then will I command My blessing to you in the sixth year, and it will bring forth a harvest for three years."
During the sixth year, sufficient crops will be harvested to last throughout the sixth, seventh, and even eighth year of the cycle.

Symbolically, the sixth year of the Shemita cycle alludes to the six thousand years of the world's existence; the seventh year alludes to the Messianic Era.

The service of the Jewish people throughout the first six thousand years has served to ready the world for the ultimate Sabbath of the seventh millennium, when peace and tranquility will reign triumphant.

We find ourselves now at the end of the six thousand year period.

"What will we eat during the seventh year?" we ask.

How can our lowly generation, which is on an infinitely lower spiritual level than that of our forefathers, possibly bring about the Final Redemption?

G-d reassures us that we need not worry: "I will command My blessing to you in the sixth year," we are promised.

G-d has endowed our generation with special strengths and abilities, for despite our spiritual poverty, we have a merit previous generations did not -- that extra measure of self- sacrifice necessary for preserving the spark of Jewishness throughout the darkness of the exile.

This special power has been granted precisely to our generation, the last generation of exile and the first of Redemption, in order to prepare the world and sow the seeds of the great revelation of G-dliness about to begin.

When Moshiach comes, speedily in our day, G-d's promise to "bring forth a harvest for three years" will find ultimate fulfillment in the three distinct phases of the Final Redemption: the Messianic Era, the Resurrection of the Dead, and the seventh millennium itself.

Adapted from Talks of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Vol 27


A Slice of Life
by Yehudis Cohen

I sit and contemplate the date of Adar 27.

Until two years ago it had little significance on the calendar.

But that was before the Lubavitcher Rebbe suffered a stroke and two years later to the day, another, more severe stroke.

A few days after the second stroke, a reporter from CBS calls and asks about the relationship between a chasid and the Rebbe, and our unshakeable belief that the Rebbe will recover.

On a conference call with the reporter, my friend and I ask when CBS will be airing the piece.

"Some time next week, unless, G-d forbid..." the reporter's voice trails off.

"Unless," I correct him, "Unless, G-d willing, the Rebbe's miraculous recovery comes before next week. And then you'll have this segment all ready to show the world. There is a Chasidic maxim that says, 'Think good and it will be good.' Start thinking positively," I suggest to him.

Excusing himself, the reporter offers, "In our business, we're usually not sent on a job unless things aren't so good."

The world has always been intrigued by our complete faith in the Rebbe and the undercurrent of belief that the Rebbe is Moshiach.

These days, the media and others have been especially curious about our continued trust in the Rebbe's words concerning the imminence of the Redemption, our more public declarations that the Rebbe is Moshiach and our unswerving faith in the Rebbe's recovery from even the second debilitating stroke.

We are strengthened by the Rebbe's talks and letters of the past 44 years and particularly the talks of the Rebbe during the 21/2 years preceding the first stroke. Within these talks we find words of inspiration and prophetic descriptions of precisely what is happening now.

We are emboldened by Torah commentaries that are coming to our attention at just the right time, like the commentary of 19th century German Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsh on the words "until Shilo comes" in Genesis.

"Shilo," according to Rashi, means Moshiach, who is a descendant of the House of David, from the tribe of Judah.

On this, Rabbi Hirsh comments:

"The time will come when the kingship of the House of David will appear at its lowest, deepest end, and Judah no longer as strong as a lion. One will think that it has reached its final stage where Judah's strength and vitality will almost have disappeared, and then --just then-- when the undertakers of world history will already have ordered the coffin for Judah's body apparently coming to its end, he will arise, and to him the congregation of nations will come."
We chasidim are neither deaf nor blind.

We hear the comments.

We know the realities and limitations of medicine.

And we are all constantly bombarded with the questions, "What if...?" "What will be when...?"

But our "when" is different.

"When G-d sends the Rebbe a miraculous recovery, we will dance in the streets together with the rest of the world in celebration of the long awaited Redemption."

Two weeks later, on the eve of the last days of Passover, a UPI reporter calls.

She heard a radio spot the Lubavitch Women's Organization sponsored encouraging Jewish women to light candles for Shabbat and Passover and to say a prayer for the Rebbe's recovery and the redemption.

"What are the chasidim doing about the Rebbe's condition?" the reporter asks.

I think about another commentary that has surfaced recently.

On the words in the Song of Songs, "I awakened you under the apple tree."

The Ibn Ezra comments, "The Jewish people will awaken Moshiach from his sleep through their prayers."

I tell the reporter, "Lubavitch institutions throughout the world are continuing all of their positive activities and encouraging people to add on in good deeds to hasten the Rebbe's recovery, and to prepare ourselves and the world for the imminent Redemption. And, of course, we are praying and saying Psalms."

"Do you really believe the Rebbe will recover?" she asks.

I sense in her question more than an attempt to gather facts.

Surely she knows my answer.

She anticipates my response, for this question has been asked of Lubavitchers throughout the world over the past two years and even more frequently over the last few weeks. Yet, she asks.

"Yes," I tell her honestly.

"I truly believe the Rebbe will recover, will rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and gather all Jews to Israel, thus ushering in the Redemption, an eternal era of peace, prosperity and the revelation of G-dliness.

But my belief," I explain to her, "and the belief of others around the world, is NOT based on desperation as some would like to think.

"Our belief is based on the Rebbe's words that ours is the last generation of exile and the first generation to experience the Redemption and, as the Rebbe said over three years ago, 'the time for the Redemption has arrived.' "

Many of my friends have also sensed that our unswerving faith serves to uplift and inspire others.

Our faith in the Rebbe encourages others to believe that the world really can be a better place, a perfect place, a world of true peace and harmony, and that it can happen now.

Jews and non-Jews the world over are praying for the Rebbe's recovery, and adding on in mitzvot and good deeds to hasten the Rebbe's recovery.

Some of the most vociferous opponents of the Rebbe have begun encouraging their followers to pray for his recovery, and from some of the most unlikely places people are beginning to declare that they believe the Rebbe is Moshiach.

Yes, we are crying inside, and sometimes openly, for the continued suffering of the Rebbe.

But, though our tears are bitter, we know that with the commencement of the Messianic Era, G-d's ultimate goodness and purpose will be revealed.


What's New
RELATIONSHIPS

Attend an inspiring weekend with the Lubavitch community in Crown Heights.

The weekend program, which will run from May 27 through May 29, will focus on "Relationships" the theme of the Shabbaton.

Featured speakers include Rabbi Manis Friedman, Professor Boruch Bush, and Rabbi Laibel Wolf of Australia, who will conduct a special seminar on Jewish meditation.

For more info call Lubavitch Youth at (718) 953-1000.

ICE CREAM, YOU SCREAM

Chabad-Lubavitch Centers world wide will be holding their annual "ice cream parties" for children to encourage them to attend the reading of the Ten Commandments on the first day of Shavuot, May 16, 1994.

Call your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center to find out the time of an ice cream party near you.


Insights

From letters of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Shlita

THE WELLSPRINGS

The Baal Shem Tov writes in a letter to his brother-in-law that on Rosh Hashana of the year 5507 (1746), his soul ascended to the heavenly realms where he was granted the privilege of entering the palace of the soul of Moshiach.

He asked Moshiach, "Master, when are you coming?" Moshiach responded, "When your wellsprings [teachings] will be disseminated outward."

To this end, the Rebbe has always stressed the importance of studying Chasidic philosophy and teaching it to others to hasten Moshiach's coming and to prepare ourselves for the Messianic Era.

What follows are excerpts of letters from the Rebbe about the importance of disseminating Chasidut.

The destiny of the teachings and the message of the Baal Shem Tov -- that they should be disseminated to the furthest reaches of the world -- must be fulfilled. Accordingly, no corner of the globe inhabited by Jews should remain untouched by this message.

And since we are now in the era in which we hear the approaching footsteps of Moshiach, who "is standing behind our wall," waiting only for the finishing touches to our refinement of this physical world, it is thus imperative that Chasidut be studied in Australia, too.

This applies not only to the Russian-born chasidim who were sent there as emissaries; it should likewise permeate the local Jewish population. And since this is something that must happen, all the necessary resources will no doubt be forthcoming.


I was pleased to read of your decision to engage in the diffusion of the light of Chasidut, and so on.

It is a pity, though, that you are deferring this for some time, when "behold, [Moshiach] is standing behind our wall," and is being delayed only because the wellsprings are not yet sufficiently widespread.

Can anyone measure [the Jewish people's] anguish with every additional moment of exile, or [their] bliss in every additional moment of the Era of the Redemption?


It is my obligation (and my privilege) to make you aware of the great necessity of studying the inner dimensions of the Torah, which in these latter generations have been revealed within the teachings of Chasidut.

And if this study is a necessity for every Jew, how much more is this true of a person who is in a position to influence others, and who is thus (in the words of the Mishna) "himself meritorious and causes many others to attain merit."

Moreover, from this affirmative statement one can infer [that the reverse is true when one does not take steps to be meritorious].

Especially in this period of the approaching footsteps of Moshiach, when "behold, he is standing behind our wall" and everyone should be prepared every day for his coming, every single individual must do his duty. For, as the King Moshiach himself stated, he will come "when the wellsprings will be widespread."

Heaven forfend that the exile be prolonged, even for the shortest time, by reason of any inactivity in this task of dissemination, or even by incomplete activity. For this is an exile both of G-d and of the House of Israel, since "when they were exiled to Edom the Divine Presence accompanied them."


From the perspective of this world, today's world needs a more intense light and a greater diffusion of light, because of its lower standards (as the Sages write, "If the early generation were like angels, we are like mortals; if they are like mortals, we are like donkeys"), and because of the seriously depleted numbers of our Jewish brethren (as a result of the events of recent years).

From the heavenly perspective, year by year, in every era, a new and lofty spiritual light which has never yet radiated is drawn down to this world, each year from a higher realm.

This obliges us to provide additional "vessels" for this light.

In this era in particular, we are coming ever closer to the time of which we have been promised, "In its time I will expedite it."

This verse refers to the time of the coming and revelation of Moshiach.

The "vessel" for this revelation is the light of Chasidut; the condition for this revelation is the dissemination of the wellsprings of Chasidut.

It follows that this light must radiate even to places which until now were "outside" and that everywhere, vessels to contain the light of Moshiach should be expanded.


Who's Who

Naftali--was the son of the Patriarch Jacob and his wife, Bilha.

He was named by Rachel, the name referring to her "wrestling" with her sister Leah in competition to bear a child.

Naftali was one of the Twelve Tribes.

He was known for his ability to run swiftly (his symbol is a gazelle) and for his beautiful singing voice.

He was blessed by his father with fertile territory whose crops ripened first.

The Kings of Israel had their gardens and orchards in the territory of Naftali.

In the battle against the Canaanite King Sisera, men of the tribe of Naftali fought valiantly under the leadership of the prophetess Devora and General Barak.


A Word from the Director

We find the following difference of opinion between the Babylonian Talmud and the Jerusalem Talmud concerning Shabbat.

The Babylonian Talmud states that if the Jews keep two Sabbaths, we will be immediately redeemed. In the Jerusalem Talmud it states that if the Jewish people keeps one Sabbath we will immediately be redeemed.

Which one is it? How can these two opinions be reconciled?

The Messianic Era is likened to the Sabbath, and is, in fact, called, "The day which is entirely Shabbat and rest for eternity."

There are various forms of rest.

We can refrain from heavy physical labor, thereby giving our bodies their much needed rest.

We can also have a less physical, but more spiritual type of rest which also rejuvenates the body, a rest which includes t he cessation of the worries and cares of the mundane world and the intensified immersion into spiritual matters.

Thus, when we observe Shabbat, we are actually observing both physical and spiritual rest.

With this in mind, we can reconcile the seeming difference of opinion between the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud. If the entire Jewish nation keeps both aspects of Shabbat on one Sabbath, we will immediately be redeemed.

This Shabbat is the Sabbath on which we bless the new month, Sivan.

On the sixth and seventh day of Sivan we celebrate the holiday of Shavuot, a time when the Jewish people all joined together, "as one person with one heart."

Let us all, in this upcoming month of Sivan -- and even before -- join together with one common goal -- to bring the Redemption for all humankind.

We can hasten the attainment of this goal by experiencing Shabbat this very week.

Indulge yourself this Shabbat in a truly restful and rejuvenating (and re-Jewvenating) experience. Observe and celebrate Shabbat in all its beauty and simplicity.


Thoughts that Count

If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments...I will give you rains in their due season, and the earth shall yield its produce, and the tree of the field its fruit (Lev. 26:3-4)

Why does the Torah devote so much detail to the physical reward for observing mitzvot?

Isn't the spiritual benefit we gain far more important?

And aren't we really supposed to observe the Torah's laws without regard for reward, but simply because G-d wants us to?

"The Torah speaks to the majority."

The Torah wants all Jews to observe mitzvot, not just those who exist on an elevated spiritual plane.

Most of us have not yet reached a state in which the promise of spiritual reward is greater motivation than physical reward.

The Torah therefore goes to great lengths to describe the physical blessings to which all can relate.

For the same reason, our Sages devoted much detail to the physical wonders and miracles that will take place in the Days of Moshiach.

Although the ultimate good will be the open revelation of G-dliness, our appreciation of this will not be immediate.

Rather, the world will have to first "mature" over a period of time in order to recognize this fact.

(Sichot Kodesh, 5751)

Behar-Bechukotai

"Behar" -- literally, "on the mountain" -- is symbolic of growth, increase and ascending upward.

"Bechukotai" -- literally, "in My statutes" -- comes from the word meaning "engraving" or "carving," symbolic of permanence and regularity, things not subject to change.

The fact that these two Torah portions are read together teaches us the necessity of combining both these attributes: We must never become complacent about our religious observance and must always strive upward; at the same time, our spiritual growth must be constant and permanent.

(Lubavitcher Rebbe, shlita)


It Happened Once
A Collection of Vignettes on the Subject of Holiness

A large group of Chasidim stood in the Study House of Rebbe Sholom of Belz waiting for the Rebbe to arrive.

Among those in the room was the Rebbe Maharash (Reb Shmuel, the fourth Lubavitcher Rebbe), who stood in a corner, incognito.

After some time passed, the elderly Belzer Rebbe arrived and, although he was blind, he passed through the room to the exact place where Reb Shmuel was standing.

He stood in front of Reb Shmuel and said, "I sense an air of holiness in this spot. You cannot hide from me." He proceeded to question Reb Shmuel about his father, the Tzemach Tzedek, and invited him to sit at his side.


Reb Shmuel Gurarie once bought manuscripts and other items that had been discovered in Cherson, which were thought to have belonged to the Baal Shem Tov and his students. He brought them as a gift to the Rebbe Rashab.

When the Rebbe received them he picked them up one by one, handled each item, and proceeded to identify which of them was authentic.

When he had finished examining all the objects, he told Rabbi Gurarie to show them all to his son, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok (later to be the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe).

The items were handed to Yosef Yitzchok in no special order, and he also handled each one in turn. Surprisingly, he made the same selections as did his father, identifying exactly the same items as being authentic.

How had the Rebbe been able to discern the authenticity of the items?

Rabbi Gurarie was intensely curious, but was too shy to ask the Rebbe. He was very close, however, to Yosef Yitzchok, and so he questioned him instead.

Yosef Yitzchok responded: "Every Jew possesses a certain degree of holiness, and holiness is attracted to holiness. So, when a Jew handles a holy object, the holiness within him is drawn to the holiness within the object."


When Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Horodok was living in the Land of Israel, he once heard the tumult of a huge crowd outside.

He inquired as to the cause of the commotion and was told that the sound of a shofar had been heard from the mountain-top; the people were sure that it was announcing the arrival of Moshiach.

Rebbe Menachem Mendel walked out on the porch and sniffed the air. "No, he hasn't come yet," he told the people near him.

"Why," it was asked, "was it necessary for the Rebbe to go outside to smell the air?

Couldn't he tell if Moshiach had come even when he was inside the house?"

But no, it was necessary for him to go outside, because for him, inside his own rooms, the scent of Moshiach was always prevalent. The question was, rather, whether it could be discerned in the outside world.


The following incident was related by Rabbi Yitzchok Isaac Epstein of Homil about his visit to Rebbe Israel, the Rizhiner Rebbe.

"The Tzemach Tzedek sent me on a mission to Rizhin. I arrived at the Rebbe's house on Friday, and was directed to an outdoor hut where the Rebbe was praying.

As I watched him, I could discern that every limb of his body was suffused with prayer.

"Later, the Rebbe sat with me and discussed the details of my mission. As was his habit, he was smoking a long, beautifully worked pipe. When his servant entered to tell him that noon had arrived, he immediately set the pipe down on the floor. [So we have the custom to refrain from forbidden activities from noon before the arrival of Shabbat].

"At that moment I had a very tangible sensation of remaining on this plane, while the Rebbe soared upwards."


When the Rizhiner Rebbe was a small child he was learning a tractate of Mishna with his teacher. The teacher explained that the subject matter dealt with a situation when, for some reason, a person forgets when Shabbat is.

"But how can a person possibly forget?" asked the boy, totally amazed at the idea.

The teacher began to detail some possible reasons: "A person might have gotten lost in a desert or forest and lost all track of the time," he explained.

But his pupil would have none of it. "It's absolutely impossible to forget," he protested.

It didn't matter how many examples the teacher provided; the boy stubbornly reiterated his protest that it was an impossibility.

Finally, the teacher asked him, "Why is it that you find this idea so hard to accept?"

"It's very simple. On Shabbat the sky looks different than it does the whole week, so if a person isn't sure what day it is, all he has to do is to look up at the sky, and he will know at once if it is Shabbat or not."

Acknowledgments to: "From My Father's Shabbos Table"
(Rabbi Y. Chitrick)


Moshiach Matters

A group of Chasidim were sitting together at a Chasidic gathering.

One of the elder Chasidim said, "When Moshiach comes, a Jew will get up in the morning and his prayers will spring forth spontaneously.

Throughout the day likewise, every spare moment will be utilized for Torah study and mitzvot. And everything will come so naturally and simply, without any effort."

(From Exile to Redemption)


  315: Emor317: Bamidbar  
   
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